Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Introduction to Judges
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In Joshua we saw that there was ground that various tribes did not completely take as well as additional land that was going to be given them, that they only needed to remain obedient to Him and love Him so that God will continue to deliver the nations into their hands. If they did not, but mingled with them and married into their people and worship their gods – God would no longer be with them to defeat their enemies. Instead those nations would become a trap and a snare to them. [Joshua 23:1-13]
So here at the beginning of the book of Judges we start with the beginnings of taking those lands, but their successes are not long lived.
“(1) After the death of Joshua, the Israelites inquired of the LORD, “Who will be the first to fight for us against the Canaanites?” (2) The LORD answered, “Judah is to go. I have handed the land over to him.”
Now that Joshua has died there remains no centralized and single leader in Israel. So Israel begins to inquire of the Lord – more or less – directly.
This is not to say that they simply spoke to Him in the way we do under the New Covenant, since Israel as a whole had already determined they did NOT want to hear and talk with God directly. So, even though it is not specifically stated here in this place, we know from history that Israel inquired of the Lord through the priests – specifically by means of the urim & thummim. These were either a piece of parchment with those names written on them or, as is more traditionally thought, two stones.
In either case, the urim & thummim were placed within the ephod of the High Priest and called upon when needing to ask God questions, usually concerning national issues. An example of this is found in Number 27:18-23,
“(18) The LORD replied to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man who has the Spirit in him, and lay your hands on him. (19) Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole community, and commission him in their sight. (20) Confer some of your authority on him so that the entire Israelite community will obey him.(21) He will stand before Eleazar who will consult the LORD for him with the decision of the Urim. He and all the Israelites with him, even the entire community, will go out and come back in at his command. (22) Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua, had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire community, (23) laid his hands on him, and commissioned him, as the LORD had spoken through Moses.”
We also addressed this on 04/25/18 in a teaching entitled, Dedication of the Priests & Temple. There is a brief segment of a larger video which depicts the urim & thummim and it’s location within the breastplate of the High Priest which can be seen on the page above. The specific timestamp is 4:12-4:28, though I recommend watching the entire video.
Judah w/ Simeon
“(3) Judah said to his brother Simeon, “Come with me to my territory, and let us fight against the Canaanites. I will also go with you to your territory.” So Simeon went with him. (4) When Judah attacked, the LORD handed the Canaanites and Perizzites over to them. They struck down 10,000 men in Bezek. (5) They found Adoni-bezek in Bezek, fought against him, and struck down the Canaanites and Perizzites.”
God repays lord Bezek for the evil he’d done
“(6) When Adoni-bezek fled, they pursued him, seized him, and cut off his thumbs and big toes. (7) Adoni-bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to pick up scraps under my table. God has repaid me for what I have done.” They brought him to Jerusalem, and he died there.”
“(8) The men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it. They put the city to the sword and set it on fire. (9) Afterwards, the men of Judah marched down to fight against the Canaanites who were living in the hill country, the Negev, and the Judean foothills. (10) Judah also marched against the Canaanites who were living in Hebron (Hebron was formerly named Kiriath-arba). They struck down Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. (11) From there they marched against the residents of Debir (Debir was formerly named Kiriath-sepher). (12) Caleb said, “Whoever strikes down and captures Kiriath-sepher, I will give my daughter Achsah to him as a wife.” (13) So Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s youngest brother, captured it, and Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to him as his wife. (14) When she arrived, she persuaded Othniel to ask her father for a field. As she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What do you want?” (15) She answered him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me springs of water also.” So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs. (16) The descendants of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, had gone up with the men of Judah from the City of Palms to the Wilderness of Judah, which was in the Negev of Arad. They went to live among the people. (17) Judah went with his brother Simeon, struck the Canaanites who were living in Zephath, and completely destroyed the town. So they named the town Hormah. (18) Judah captured Gaza and its territory, Ashkelon and its territory, and Ekron and its territory. (19) The LORD was with Judah and enabled them to take possession of the hill country, but they could not drive out the people who were living in the valley because those people had iron chariots. (20) Judah gave Hebron to Caleb, just as Moses had promised. Then Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak who lived there.”
“(21) At the same time the Benjaminites did not drive out the Jebusites who were living in Jerusalem. The Jebusites have lived among the Benjaminites in Jerusalem to this day.”
Ephraim & (Western) Manasseh (Joseph)
“(22) The house of Joseph also attacked Bethel, and the LORD was with them. (23) They sent spies to Bethel (the town was formerly named Luz). (24) The spies saw a man coming out of the town and said to him, “Please show us how to get into town, and we will treat you well.” (25) When he showed them the way into the town, they put the town to the sword but released the man and his entire family. (26) Then the man went to the land of the Hittites, built a town, and named it Luz. That is its name to this day.”
“(27) At that time Manasseh failed to take possession of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the residents of Dor and its villages, or the residents of Ibleam and its villages, or the residents of Megiddo and its villages. But the Canaanites refused to leave this land. (28) When Israel became stronger, they made the Canaanites serve as forced labor but never drove them out completely.”
“(29) At that time Ephraim failed to drive out the Canaanites who were living in Gezer, so the Canaanites have lived among them in Gezer.”
“(30) Zebulun failed to drive out the residents of Kitron or the residents of Nahalol, so the Canaanites lived among them and served as forced labor.”
“(31) Asher failed to drive out the residents of Acco or of Sidon, or Ahlab, Achzib, Helbah, Aphik, or Rehob. (32) The Asherites lived among the Canaanites who were living in the land, because they failed to drive them out.”
“(33) Naphtali did not drive out the residents of Beth-shemesh or the residents of Beth-anath. They lived among the Canaanites who were living in the land, but the residents of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath served as their forced labor.”
“(34) The Amorites forced the Danites into the hill country and did not allow them to go down into the valley. (35) The Amorites refused to leave Har-heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim. When the house of Joseph got the upper hand, the Amorites were made to serve as forced labor. (36) The territory of the Amorites extended from the ascent of Akrabbim, that is from Sela upward.
“(1) The Angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim and said, “I brought you out of Egypt and led you into the land I had promised to your fathers. I also said: I will never break My covenant with you. (2) You are not to make a covenant with the people who are living in this land, and you are to tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed Me. What is this you have done? (3) Therefore, I now say: I will not drive out these people before you. They will be thorns in your sides, and their gods will be a trap to you.”
Joshua 23:1-13, “(1) A long time after the LORD had given Israel rest from all the enemies around them, Joshua was old, getting on in years. (2) So Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and said to them, “I am old, getting on in years, (3) and you have seen for yourselves everything the LORD your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the LORD your God who was fighting for you. (4) See, I have allotted these remaining nations to you as an inheritance for your tribes, including all the nations I have destroyed, from the Jordan westward to the Mediterranean Sea. (5) The LORD your God will force them back on your account and drive them out before you, so that you can take possession of their land, as the LORD your God promised you. (6) “Be very strong, and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left (7) and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. (8) Instead, remain faithful to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. (9) “The LORD has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one has been able to stand against you to this day. (10) One of you routed a thousand, because the LORD your God was fighting for you, as He promised. (11) So be very diligent to love the LORD your God for your own well-being. (12) For if you turn away and cling to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you, (13) know for certain that the LORD your God will not continue to drive these nations out before you. They will become a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you disappear from this good land the LORD your God has given you.”
“(4) When the Angel of the LORD had spoken these words to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly. (5) So they named that place Bochim [weeping] and offered sacrifices there to the LORD.”
“(6) Joshua sent the people away, and the Israelites went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. (7) The people worshiped the LORD throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the LORD’s great works He had done for Israel. (8) Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of 110. (9) They buried him in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. (10) That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the LORD or the works He had done for Israel.”
You know the point I am going to make here – 2nd generation faith is really no faith at all. It is no more than mental ascent…it has to saving power.
“(11) The Israelites did what was evil in the LORD’s sight. They worshiped the Baals (12) and abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, Who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods from the surrounding peoples and bowed down to them. They infuriated the LORD, (13) for they abandoned Him and worshiped Baal and the Ashtoreths.”
“(14) The LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He handed them over to marauders who raided them. He sold them to the enemies around them, so that they could no longer resist their enemies. (15) Whenever the Israelites went out, the LORD was against them and brought disaster on them, just as He had promised and sworn to them. So they suffered greatly.”
“(16) The LORD raised up judges, who saved them from the power of their marauders, (17) but they did not listen to their judges. Instead, they prostituted themselves with other gods, bowing down to them. They quickly turned from the way of their fathers, who had walked in obedience to the LORD’s commands. They did not do as their fathers did.”
“(18) Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for the Israelites, the LORD was with him and saved the people from the power of their enemies while the judge was still alive. The LORD was moved to pity whenever they groaned because of those who were oppressing and afflicting them. (19) Whenever the judge died, the Israelites would act even more corruptly than their fathers, going after other gods to worship and bow down to them. They did not turn from their evil practices or their obstinate ways.”
“(20) The LORD’s anger burned against Israel, and He declared, “Because this nation has violated My covenant that I made with their fathers and disobeyed Me, (21) I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died.”
“(22) I did this to test Israel and to see whether they would keep the LORD’s way by walking in it, as their fathers had.” (23) The LORD left these nations and did not drive them out immediately. He did not hand them over to Joshua.”
God had already promised that if Israel turned from Him, He would no longer turn over the nations into their hands. Now, this promise is also being used as a test. By the continual presence of these foreigners among them, would Israel turn to God in repentance or further learn their ways?
The key to this test is found in the word “immediately”. God did eventually drive out these nations but due to their unfaithfulness and His testing of their hearts He did not hurry to do so. He let them stay and did not hand those nations over to Joshua (Israel).
I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.
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